Bookstores have taken a hit in the past ten years. Online shopping and the explosion ebook publishing have caused many bookstores to struggle, closing their doors. The nation’s Capitol is one of the few places where bookstores have flourished, including a number of specialty and independent bookstores. Wednesday, March 2 is National Read Across America Day, the perfect excuse to pick up a book. Here are five DC bookstores where you can browse books and soak up the scent of the printed word.
Capitol Hill Books
657 C St. S.E.
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 544-1621

Capitol Hill Books is located, you guessed it, on Capitol Hill. The small, two-story bookshop is located right across from the Eastern Market and caters exclusively to used books. In addition to the regular mishmash found at used bookstores, Capitol Hill Books also sells first edition books. The list of the store’s current first editions can be found online at the Advanced Book Exchange and the store can also help you find first and special editions through estate sales and auctions. Capitol Hill Books accepts donations and purchases books.

Politics And Prose
5015 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
(202) 364-1919

Politics and Prose is a successful local chain that is way more than just books. The company has four locations in the DC area, some sharing space with another popular DC cafe, Busboys and Poets. Politics and Prose has a carefully curated book inventory as well as a knowledgeable and well-read staff. The stores hosts frequent book signings and guest speakers by authors, politicians and other literary greats. Politics and Prose also offers classes, book groups and themed international trips.

Second Story Books
2000 P St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 659-8884

Second Story Books opened in 1973 and is now one of the largest rare and used bookstores in the world. Second Story has two locations, one in Dupont Circle and the other in nearby Rockville. The stores stocks used books from all genres as well as collectible manuscripts, maps, prints and posters. You can also take your own well loved novels in for repair, rebinding or to sell them out right. The Rockville location houses a special collections room that can be viewed by appointment.

Related: Best Print Shops In Washington, D.C.

Idle Time Books
2467 18th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 232-4774

Idle Time Books is the place to be in Adams Morgan when you need a little dose of classic bookstore. The bookstore has three floors where patrons can browse through old classics and new, or sit down and read in one of Idle Time’s comfy chairs. Idle Time also sells cards, newspapers, CDs and records. Some of the store’s inventory is listed online through sites like Amazon, Alibris and Abebooks.

Kramerbooks & Afterwords
1517 Connecticut Ave. N.W. 
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 387-1400

Kramerbooks & Afterwords is a bookstore slash upscale cafe that pairs books with great food and drink. Open since 1976, Kramerbooks offers an inventory of new books in an independent format. The store hosts book signings and events of all sizes, in store and around town. The Afterwords Cafe has a menu that features locally sourced ingredients, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Another bonus of the cafe — having a bookstore with a full service bar.

Related: Best Places To Buy Vintage Video Games, Accessories In Washington, D.C.

Christa Emmer is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in broadcast journalism. She has experience as a news writer, editor and producer in television news. Follow her on twitter @ChristaEmmer. Her work can be found at